We envision a future in which robots are ubiquitous, quiet, efficient machines that work alongside people to help us build, create, and interact with the world in new ways. Already we see special-purpose machines affecting our daily lives: robot-assisted surgery is helping doctors perform operations in more delicate and careful ways; robot manufacturing continues to improve efficiency and reduce cost; robots have even begun to enter our homes to clean our floors.
The internet has given us all an incredible ability to share information globally; a clever article or a catchy song can now be enjoyed by millions of people across the planet at no additional cost to its creator. Personal computers have given us the tremendous ability to duplicate information on an almost unimaginable scale. What if instead of just sharing and duplicating information, we could share things or even skills with each other? Even if a robot were no more than a copy machine for skills used on physical objects, wouldn’t it be wonderful if a personal robot could duplicate a master woodcarver’s engraving on your front door, stitch and adjust the cuff of your clothes like an Italian tailor, or physically reproduce the paint strokes of a master artist to create a painting that you could hang on your wall? Outside of our homes, agricultural robots could pick and deliver you fresh fruit each day at low cost. Robot assisted garbage collection and recycling could help us clean up the careless messes our technological revolution has made. The potential for robotics to affect the way we live and work has such a wide scope that it is hard to grasp, but to quote Alfred North Whitehead, “Civilization advances by extending the number of important operations which we can perform without thinking about them.” Imagine what civilization would be like if we could all share our skills and artistry with each other in such ways!
All this may sound far-fetched, and perhaps it is still many years away from being a widespread reality. Indeed, robots today have more in common with a personal computer circa 1970: many geeks dreamed about buying one, but they were too expensive and too difficult for the average person (or even the average geek) to use. Then a social revolution occurred when PCs became priced at a level that consumers could afford, and suddenly millions of people found themselves empowered to create, organize, and distribute information in new ways. A business revolution also occurred: almost overnight the multi-billion dollar markets of PC hardware and software were born to service the needs of the personal computing revolution. The arrival of low-priced robotic products that are purchasable by everyday people will likewise create a social revolution and as a side effect, a tremendous consumer robotics market.
Octopus Robotics aims to position itself at the forefront of these future-making developments as it brings advanced motion control technology from research laboratories to market.
After all, a future without robots is like a future without flying cars — not as cool as it could have been.